In this Part I want to explore a practical application of integrated transport policy. Quite often we have accepted second best as ground-breaking. As an example, while London is phasing out Oyster card (as its smart card becomes an obsolete technology) the rest of Great Britain (West Midlands included) is trying to introduce smart card ticketing for transport.
Yesterday at this round table discussion, through ticketing was discussed – in the particular context of going from New York to Birmingham of getting an air-rail ticket that meant a passenger could get off their plane at Birmingham Airport and transfer on to a connecting train to finish their journey at their actual destination (rather than the nearest airport to destination). While that is absolutely right and necessary, that is the manifestation of the end-to-end (or door-to-door) journey approach in a relatively simplistic sense.
As I have frequently droned on about, transport is great at being a service from A to B. Instead, we need to focus on mobility from the perspective of the user. It shouldn’t be difficult as we could just use our own practical experience!! My usual journey is walking to my local station to get a train into Birmingham New Street. From there I may change trains or walk around the city centre or get a bus onwards. It would not be difficult to integrate full real time information on current network performance along with effective journey planning options to enable me to assess my options for any particular journey.
And that planning should incorporate the full range of mobility opportunities: train, metro, bus, taxi, bike hire, walking, cycling, ride share, car hire… And metrics to help me choose – time, cost, comfort, calories used, emissions generated…
And then it should let me book my journey as well! None of this smart card and pay as you go, simply a mobility account that credits me dynamically – so benefits or perks for walking/cycling (paid for out of the health budget), incentives for public transport (like discounts at the coffee shop by my destination station or bus stop…) and so on. So charging me actual costs based on congestion/demand against my mode of choice and giving me incentives to shift my behaviour towards more sustainable (for the city, for the planet and for my own health!!) means.
All run through my own personal mobility account. This could make ticketing and smart cards obsolete, including season tickets – instead the account could dynamically cost the real supply and demand alongside those wider policy impacts (public health, congestion and so on). We can then factor in part time workers, shift workers, workers who have to travel in peak time, as well as then coordinating incentive structures with employers in a far more creative way to actually better manage our transport networks at far lower cost than mega traffic jams, building new roads and the maintenance bills that come from it. This is intelligent mobility – tempted…???